Digital Literacy and the History of the Internet with Chris Castiglione (S6E6)

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Chris Castiglione came to this realization after not being interested in computers early in life. He started out as a music major in college but switched into media arts design, which was where his technical skills began to develop.

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Chris CastiglioneAfter graduation, his journey took him from being a website-building digital nomad to eventually founding One Month, where he teaches courses on topics from programming languages to cryptocurrency. (In fact, he came on the podcast before to talk about crypto and blockchain—listen to that here!) He also teaches digital literacy at Columbia Business School.

digital learning

In today’s episode, Chris and I chat about the importance of digital literacy, the history of the internet, how to teach yourself tech skills in a sustainable way, and more.

This episode was transcribed with the help of an AI transcription tool. Please forgive any typos.

Laurence Bradford 0:09
Hey, and thank you for tuning in to the Learn to Code With Me podcast. In this episode, you'll find out the history of the internet and what it means to be digitally literate. That's all coming up after a quick word from our sponsors.

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Laurence Bradford 1:12
Hello listeners. In today's episode I'm talking with Chris Castiglione. Chris is the co-founder and CEO of One Month, and he teaches at Columbia University Business School. Chris's mission is to use storytelling and education as a tool to inspire positive change in the world. I already spoke with Chris in Season 4 where we discussed Bitcoin and cryptocurrency but this time we're talking about something totally different. Today, Chris tells us about a brief history of the internet and what it means for the internet to be decentralized. He also talks about the importance of having digital skills no matter what field that you're in, and which skills are the most important to learn in 2019. I hope you enjoy interview.

Laurence Bradford 2:06
Hey, Chris, thank you so much for coming on the show. It's great to have you back on

Chris Castiglione 2:10
Hello Laurence. How's it going?

Chris Castiglione 2:11
It's going well. How's it going with you?

Chris Castiglione 2:13
Ah, things are great. Yeah. I love the podcasts. I'm happy to be chatting with you today.

Laurence Bradford 2:18
Yes. And last time we talked about cryptocurrency and Bitcoin and today our conversation is going to be I mean, still tech related, but pretty different. And we're going to be talking about digital literacy, which I'm really excited about. But I want to backtrack a bit and start by talking about how you got interested in tech. And we were doing research before the interview. And we saw that you started out in Media Arts and Design, and we read that you were a music industry major. And that's when you first came across Napster and that just kind of changed everything for you. Can you tell us a bit? Yeah. Tell us a bit about that.

Chris Castiglione 2:53
Yeah, so I was never really into computers. I just always thought computers are for nerds and like the CS department Computer Science Department. I was I was a music major. And what happened though around the time that I was in college, so a little bit ago, but it was around 2000 2001 was that this app came out Napster. And for the first time in like the history of the world, you could all of a sudden have access to like any song you wanted at any moment. You didn't have to like wait for it to come on TV or on the radio or buy it. And it was like absolutely free. And so like I was studying music and the music industry, like I was even had, my first job was as an intern at a recording studio in New York City called stratosphere sound, I think is still here. And at the time I saw this Napster thing come out. And to me, it wasn't about music at all, though it was about the power of coding because it was like some some kid like Shawn Fanning, who would find out basically made this app that was rivaling the music industry. He was basically it was it was like making this revolution from his bedroom basically. And I was just like, why is that and so I was so interested that I left my major as a music and that was my sophomore year and and I switched to something called New Media. And it was the first year that they had ever done it. And it was basically a bunch of art and computer nerds trying to figure out what the internet was. And I thought it was awesome.

Laurence Bradford 4:23
Yeah, that's really cool. So okay, so you then switched into the media arts design, and yeah, that's what you ended up graduating.

Chris Castiglione 4:29
Yeah. Yeah.

Laurence Bradford 4:32
Awesome. And switching gears a little bit. But recently, you've been writing a lot about the history of the internet and decentralization. Can you explain like first what that means and then how these two things are connected?

Chris Castiglione 4:46
Yeah, totally. So the idea and I say like, the reason why I started writing about this is that the whole blockchain, Bitcoin, a lot of these ideas, this idea about this new internet, this kind of new evolution of where the internet's going. I saw a lot of this happening. And it was as if it was happening in isolation, as if these were all new events. This is around, especially around 2017 2018 when a lot of new people started getting involved and, and the truth, though, is that none of these events are happening in isolation, like Bitcoin is not a new technology really, or blockchain is not a new technology. They're really all part of a longer story that I call, I'm calling it a brief history of the internet because these ideas and technologies go back all the way to the 1960s when a guy named Paul Baron was writing about decentralization, and what he saw as the future of communications.

Chris Castiglione 5:43
So that got me really excited to share these stories and kind of try to give context I would say to like, where we came from, because for a lot of people who bought into bitcoin early, it wasn't just because they were like, you know, it wasn't random chance. I don't I don't think it wasn't just because they were nerds or Had some investment lead none. And none of that was really part of the conversation. It was because they saw that vision and they were able to see where the future was going. And I believe it's true about the next 10 to 20 years if you can see, kind of the the longer step back longer tides of where we've come that there's these, like, tectonic shifts kind of that happened. And they happen in patterns. And a lot of them are around this idea of decentralization that we're starting to hear a lot more about. So that's what I've been writing about and trying to do in a fun way that isn't that's approachable for the 99% of people who haven't heard heard that term before.

Laurence Bradford 6:32
Yeah, I'm curious. So how do you define decentralization?

Chris Castiglione 6:35
Yeah, I think, you know, there's a million different definitions. So I think the easiest way because it does get a bit complex, but, but just just if you imagine this idea of anyone I mean, if you think about the way the internet works right now, right, anyone could connect to anyone. Sometimes we call it peer to peer without a middleman. And so the idea is that with decentralized You can have, let's say 100 people connect to each other and any one person can connect to anyone else in that group of 100. And I'm just making this hundred person thing up, but you have like a classroom 100 people, anyone can connect to anyone you don't need permission from, from a middleman, right? And so it basically eliminates the middleman. Now, where have we seen that before? Well before let's say Napster, or a lot of what we consider the internet today, you had to go through a middleman.

Chris Castiglione 7:29
If you wanted to make a phone call, for example. You had to go through at&t you had to route through at&t, you needed an operator for example, right? Like literally This is what my parents have told me like in the 60s or something you'd call you pick up your phone and you there's somebody who like literally be on the other side, you have to go through them to get where you're going but now we don't need that we can go person to person and there's a lot written and there's a lot of tectonic shifts that have happened of removing the middleman so it started we can say with the you know, with Napster is one big example but then To the way that news media has disappeared. Real Estate, a lot of industries have really just been kind of building on this variation in this theme. This idea of removing the middleman and Bitcoin and blockchain are one of the kind of newest variations on that theme.

Laurence Bradford 8:17
Yeah, when you're talking about that, and also just thinking about like ride sharing on Uber Yeah. Lyft Airbnb so like home sharing or apartment sharing, Yeah, yep. Yeah, and all these other all these other things that Yeah, especially I think over the last like decade have, as you said, have been removing the middleman. But it's definitely been happening sooner than that.

Chris Castiglione 8:35
And then said, like, the interesting question is, like, think about places where there still are middlemen, and then where middlemen are middle women, and where we can you know, and where the future might be be going. And whenever anybody kind of posits one of these, it always seems like oh, that's never gonna go away. You know, whether it's like central banking Bank of America. Whether it's and this is just my own conjecture, but like certain parts of the government, you know, that we look to Are there places where, where there's this kind of bureaucracy in the middle where these decisions can be brought to the level of code where there's like code that can be written, that can we can trust more to execute and to connect a variety of people, you know, or millions of people without having to rely on one middle person that, you know, and historically we've seen could be corrupt or Yeah, you know, different self interest, bias, mistakes, that kind of thing.

Laurence Bradford 9:30
Got it. So, you know, and you're very interested in this area of decentralization. You also teach a course on digital literacy, both called Digital Literacy for decision makers, and you teach that at Columbia University. What exactly is digital literacy? How is it different from decentralize? And no, I feel like it's different but are they also kind of related?

Chris Castiglione 9:50
Yeah, so digital literacy is the name of the course that I teach. It's at Columbia Business School, and genuinely second year business school students. The course is really popular a lot of people that you have to use this like bidding system. And so it's often you know, sold out and a lot of people will, will know they need to take it. And I only say all of that, only to say that people really feel this need to learn technology skills in their in, in the business school, right. So like, in a way, I'm trying to point out how weird that is that like this course, which about 20 1020 years ago, I think it first stopped didn't exist, but Business School students were learning finance, Business School students were learning, you know, things about economics and all this kind of stuff. And now there's this course, you know, digital literacy that I teach, and everyone kind of knows that they need to take it or feels like they need to take it. But then on day one, you know, I'll ask them like, why are you taking this and a lot of people don't even know why they just have this. I don't know whether it's like a feeling a feeling to meet stay relevant, you know, because it's like, you know, things are changing. How do you stay relevant or appealing to kind of under Like this stuff too, as it exists right now, because you know, what we find in the first quarter.

Chris Castiglione 11:05
The first class of the course is that most people don't know the way technology works right now, which inhibits the ability to understand what's coming next. And so example with that would be, you know, I have them go on the board and draw, you know, how, how data flows from, from me to my mom, when I send a cat image, you know, send an image of cat like, where does that go? who handles that? all the processes of that have been researched, but they do a little project but but like, simple things like that, that we don't know where our data is going get really limits our ability to understand the way things work right now and then you it's really hard to understand the innovations that people are writing in depth about, about whether it's, you know, basically getting you know, the Facebook leaks, the Cambridge analytic to these data breaches, etc. It's like hard to really understand like how this stuff affects you or also that it could be different which is what a lot of people are arguing about. This isn't the only way to build the internet, there are different ways. And these have been talked about for decades. And so they're really going to be talked about now on how to how to make the system better. And so we go through kind of the past, present and future of digital technologies surrounding internet as well as a little bit of learning to code, which I think is important. And some readings and all this kind of stuff. So that's, that's more or less what the courses for.

Laurence Bradford 12:25
Yeah, that's really awesome. And it's, it is really fascinating that these are people at the business school that are taking this course and they understand like the need to become digital ways. Is it correct to say do digitally literate is that is that right?

Chris Castiglione 12:41
Yeah, sure. That sounds great. Yeah.

Laurence Bradford 12:45
Okay. Nobody's saying they're digitally literate, okay. So that they understand the need to do that. And I am just so curious, like the students in your class, what are their end goals like are these people that want to become like CF foes CEOs, and they just know that, okay to operate in today's business world, I need to have a grasp on these concepts because of how much it is shaping.

Chris Castiglione 13:10
Yeah, for sure. So a lot of I mean, it's business school, right. And also, I'll say that I didn't go to business school. So, but I do run a business. So I think I think that's, that's part of, you know, part of why I'm there. But only to say that, you know, it is business school. So it's the traditional business school student, a lot of them are looking to get into finance. Some of them want to start their own businesses. Yeah, be CFO CEOs. You know, all of these kind of things are definitely where they're coming from, you know, that that hasn't changed in Business School, where the digital literacy part comes in is that these executive roles, for example, are often in the situation where they need to, whether it's hire people who are digitally competent, whether it's, you know, listen to reports coming from the CTO, you know, and kind of influence and make decisions about these Or a lot of products these days are digital products. I mean, there's you know, it'd be hard to find any company right now that doesn't have whether it's a digital presence or, you know, a website or like something, you know, where you kind of need, like the basics.

Chris Castiglione 14:14
You know, I can give you give you like one example of stripe comes to mind the payment processing company. And I know that they had a lot of sales, people that work for them and have to sell their, you know, there's payment processors, workers on API works, here's how, you know, when you could query the data, it's kind of like SQL. It's difficult to, for salespeople, for marketing people to sell the product to educate people, you know, that they, I mean, I'm sure that their company has more than like, 1000 people at this point. Where do you find people who are you know, both savvy and skills like financing marketing business, but can also kind of speak that tongue and so that's, like I said, that's been the combination or like, That's been the sort of summary of a lot of the work I've been doing. Because I used to teach a course called I still teach it called programming for non programmers. And that was what spun into digital literacy. Because that was similarly a lot of a lot of finance people executive people that were just looking to speak the talk the talk, but not when not necessarily, like become a developer. So yeah, that's been something I've been working on for a while.

Laurence Bradford 15:24
Yeah, I yeah, that's really awesome. And by the way, when you were talking I looked up stripes company size and it is 1500. Okay, as a February Yeah, so you're so you're close. Yeah, and I and this just reminds me of something I love to say and I just believe so much is that every company nowadays is a tech company like as you were saying earlier, hundred percent a company and yeah, one way or another is relying on technology in some ways, whether it's like for shipping products internally like warehouse management or something or to run their website or to do payment processing and you know, all the all these other things. So, just going with digital literacy, I have, what are t shaped skills? Is this something that you teach? That has to do with being digitally literate?

Chris Castiglione 16:10
Yeah, so the idea of T shaped skills, this idea has been around for a little bit. And the idea is that somebody with T shaped skills has if you think of the way a letter T looks, the capital letter T, think about a capital energy, you have this kind of like broad, like left to right kind of horizon on the top, and then this, this kind of this vertical, like very specific kind of, you know, down and then t shaped skills would be to have a broad range of skills. So in some ways to be a generalist, but to be really specifically good at one thing, right? And an example of that is so at my company one month, we were a small company, you know, we're around 10 people, and so for that, you the people on our team need to wear a lot of hats, right? And so for example, the the The young fella that we hired my friend, Zach now to had our video department, he came in with really specific video skills, like he was one of the best, you know, that I've seen, you know, say at least like in his age range, you know, he was fresh out of college and he was making videos, use editing videos, he had a lot of the skills that we needed.

Chris Castiglione 17:21
And it turned out how a lot of broad skills the top part of the T where he also knew a little bit about a code, right, he was definitely was not a programmer, but he knew a little bit. He knew how to manage people, he taken a lot of leadership classes and communication classes, and these kind of things, you know, so I think having a broad range of skills like knowing the variety of different hats that you may have to wear and how things work, while also having one specific thing. I think that's what a lot of people miss, because there are people who are generalists, and you know, they get out and I think the hard part of being a super, super generalist, which I am I could really relate to that, or have been for a long time in my life is that when you're trying to get high it's sometimes difficult because people hire for specific skills. But once you're on the team, it's the broad part where you can really kind of go up in your position. You know, work better with other teammates that the broad part really complements that.

Laurence Bradford 18:17
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Laurence Bradford 20:54
Yeah, I think that was really an example and I'm sure a lot of folks listening I can relate also to Feeling like you have a lot of different passions and a lot of different interests, and yet again, a lot of different skills and it's hard sometimes to know, like what to convey to an employer or like what to focus in on to get that job, as you mentioned, really, when you're when you're getting any kind of tech job, whether it's video editing, or audio editing, or programming or looking at a few key skills, you know, like that, that you have.

Chris Castiglione 21:27
Yeah, and I mean, I mean, I'm thinking about, you know, the people listen to your podcast, you know, learning to code, it's so overwhelming. There's so many different languages and frameworks and all the stuff that you could be learning. And in some ways, you it's good to know, at all like a little bit, you know, and in another way, which is probably more would be my more specific advice for people getting started. Just pick something and go with it. Because you can always change and because at the same time having one thing, you know, like we've, you know, we we use Ruby at our company to build the website, but we hired somebody who hadn't used Ruby that much, but was really good at Python back in the day, just because he was really good at Python, you know, and he was and he just had so many great skills and those kind of people can learn on the job and all that. But again, like just knowing that this person had really strong skills at one part that I think that helps you stand out in interviews for sure.

Laurence Bradford 22:28
Yeah, and I love the devices just getting started with something and going with it. And once you know one programming language, it's a lot easier to learn more. I'm not a language speaker. Like I'm not bilingual or trilingual, but I remember when I studied abroad in I studied abroad in Shanghai, and there was one guy in my program, who got there and start learning Mandarin really fast like he, he would his Mandarin skill, his Mandarin abilities and in just reading and writing as well, we're ahead people who have taken In it for years and everyone was like, What is this guy doing? How is he learning so fast? He was practicing. Turns out he was already trilingual. So I forget exactly. I think he knew German English and maybe Spanish fluently or something like totally fluent.

Laurence Bradford 23:13
And it was just so easy for him to start learning Mandarin because he already knew these other languages, even though they're really different. But I guess I have not, you know, uh, I don't know a lot about the brain, but I imagine it's like similar parts of the brain that are being triggered and then it's just a lot easier to do it the next time. 100% people and people say that a lot about about languages if you've learned one, you just kind of, you know, the patterns, you know, you know, you know, you know, you know, the certain parts that you need to excel out, you know, your own weaknesses, you know, how you learn best, all that kind of stuff. I think it's true for programming 100% as well. Yeah. And what you said, Just knowing how to learn, or that is such an important trait to have like in any job because no matter where you're working, you're always going to have to learn something new whether it's a tech skills or not and personally at my at my, you know, last full time job I found the hardest thing to learn for myself and just other things that I observed was like communication skills. I don't know if you ever find that too, like, I feel like there can be for me like my most challenging moments in that job had nothing to do with technical stuff it has to do with like communication related.

Chris Castiglione 24:21
Do you mean

Laurence Bradford 24:22

Chris Castiglione 24:23
Do you mean like you've you felt personally challenged or and or like the people around you challenge?

Laurence Bradford 24:29
Both. I mean, like, like, I maybe wasn't communicating what I was trying to get across in the best way. And whether that was, Well usually would be like, verbally I feel like through writing, I've always been pretty good at communicating through writing just because I have written you know, like anything, we do it a lot it you get better at it. And I've written tons of articles and tutorials so I feel like I've always been pretty strong writing but yet verbally communicating and just trying to get my ideas across in like a succinct and understandable way. And I think Same with, you know, other people that I've worked with I think people other company would agree. Like I'm sure we've all had coworkers that we wish communicate better. We wish, you know, gave better updates on project timelines or whatever it may be. So, yeah, that was just I don't know, my own experience. So I always I always tell people, like, I feel like if you can communicate well, and people can understand what you're saying, and that just shows even in the interview, you know..

Chris Castiglione 25:27
Yeah, how do you how do you learn how, how have you learned those skills? I'd be curious.

Laurence Bradford 25:31
So the way now now, so I mean, I have you ever worked full time? So I think we're sort of veering here. But I know you you obviously you run one month, right? And you teach but have you worked like at work? You weren't the boss more or less?

Chris Castiglione 25:45
Yeah, it's been a while. But yeah, out of college. I was a web developer for eight years. And so I worked at different different different agencies were, yeah, just working on teams and I so I 100% agree with you. That's why I'm like so curious how--

Laurence Bradford 26:03
Yeah, I was going to say--

Laurence Bradford 26:05
Tell me, yeah.

Laurence Bradford 26:05
So I, you know, I've been working now not full time at a company for almost a year in August 2019. It'll be a full year. And it's so again the biggest difference and the biggest to me like just the challenges is the communication and like the the human interaction. So now I don't have meetings, I don't have any red tape. I don't have anyone that I'm reporting to, I have to find my own accountability. I am, you know, quote my own boss, which comes with its own advantages, but also comes with its own challenges, and then working full time, same story, but the challenges in the advantages are like totally different. Instead, right? You're reporting to someone else, depending on the company size or could be lots of management or there could be you know, lots of people that are decision makers above

Laurence Bradford 26:59
So just to get one thing moved through can take a lot more time and a lot of back and forth. I think a lot of folks can also just relate to the whole being in meetings if you work at a bigger company, or even like a medium or small company, being in a lot of meetings, you may be kind of feel like a waste of time or maybe you shouldn't be there because you're not the best person to be there is taking longer than it is necessary. So like, my challenges have totally flipped as far as how I dealt with them at my full time job. You know, I feel like I still had a lot of work I could have done if I would have if I would have stayed there but I feel like listening and patience I'm still working on my patience that that's a skill I think I'll forever be honing in on it's just having patience in moments where where especially for someone who wants to control a lot of things and I think we all love I think a lot of us don't like uncertainty you know, like, for me like I just do so well with structure, uncertainty because sometimes you really throw me off. So just learning how to have patience and moments of uncertainty. Yeah is like the biggest thing. It's something I'm still working on. It's just very different from what it looked like at a full time job.

Chris Castiglione 28:10
Yeah, I hear that. And it's such. Yeah, it's, it's hard to, especially when you're running a business, because you have a lot of responsibility. And oftentimes, any one person on your team might not see that, you know, all the other responsibilities. It's kind of like an iceberg. You know, they can only kind of see often part of, you know, what might be going on. And yeah, I think you totally, really hit the nail on the head with this idea of communication and it's also something that's, that's, you know, a lot of ways you have to learn on the job. But it's so yeah, and communication is it's such a it's such an important skill. It's definitely part of that that T shape that we were talking about, you know, having having Yeah, having having those experiences and knowing yourself knowing how to be patient.

Laurence Bradford 28:56
Yes, continuing this topic of skills. What tech skills or technologies do you think are particularly important for people to know in 2019? I'm sure you can give like 50 answers, but if you can maybe just try to gear it towards the folks listening to the audience. So people, you know, learning to code, they're a bit later in life, you know, after college, and they're trying to make a career transition into tech.

Chris Castiglione 29:22
Yeah, I, I always say, especially if you're learning to code for the first time, or you've done a little bit of, you know, different different things, but you know, you're new or you're looking to upskill at a job, whatever it is the I get the question all the time, you know, what do I start with because people feel overwhelmed, and there's a lot of a lot of things that really the fundamentals were you 100% need to start is HTML and CSS. It sounds basic, maybe to some people who have done a little bit of it. Or maybe it sounds completely foreign. You don't know what the difference between those two are, wherever you're at just getting the fundamentals of that. enough so that you can understand how to look under the hood of the web, every single website on the internet is made with those two languages. You need to know those two languages, it'll explain so much, I think so much will be understood after that. From there, there's really only a third language, just 123 C, HTML, CSS, the third language of the web is JavaScript.

Chris Castiglione 30:21
That's not my opinion, that's like, objectively how the web works. There's only three languages on the front end that you can use. And so I say after that JavaScript is really, you know, kind of, it's the behavior of how these languages come together. If you've ever seen something on the website, move or open up, you know, different kinds of slideshows, or whatever, whatever it is like, it's tends to be JavaScript, so, so these three languages and then I say, choose one back end language, which these days Python is really kind of exploding because with Python, you can not only make websites, but you can do things like data analytics, and we teach it it's a really popular course. Also at the business school that my co founder Martin raffle teaches. And so these languages like that steps 1234, I think are really that foundation of skills. And then I think it applies to so many different other languages in different situations.

Chris Castiglione 31:15
And I would say if the last one would be SQL, which is now that's full stack of you something called full stack when you've done HTML, CSS, JavaScript, back end language and sequel, so yeah, that that tends to be the progression. I know even that might sound overwhelming to somebody getting started but just start with the basics. You know, do a little bit every day, whatever it is, buy a book, take a course or find a friend who knows something and just a little bit every day, you know, it's amazing what you you know what you can learn in a year if you put in a little bit of time every week, you know, so be kind to yourself.

Laurence Bradford 31:46
Yes, yes. I feel like it's kind of like exercising or something where he where I feel like there's some friends that I have who have just gone these undergone these amazing link Body transformations. But the thing is, it's never been in like three months or six months. These are people who have been going to the gym day in, day out eating healthy. You know, of course, they'll have, you know, their off days, you're not doing it seven days a week, like, they'll go on vacation, everything, but it's now been like two years or a year and a half.

Laurence Bradford 32:17
And you look at those before and after photos they post. And it's like, wow, but you know what, it wasn't easy. I was literally in the gym every single day for an hour a day. This is not an overnight thing. I feel like it's the same thing with learning. Right? I have, I'm sure you did you get lots of people asking, oh, how fast can I get a job? And I think wow, people do make that like change it to a web developer job in six months or nine months. It's such a more it's such a longer term thing, you know?

Chris Castiglione 32:42
Yeah. And I think it comes back to a lot of the things we've been talking about as far as learning you know, a spoken language which a lot of people are familiar with, if you maybe they have you have or haven't done it, but you're familiar with the concept of immersion, and that you know, it really helps if you go to Spain and speak Spanish rather than just us. flashcards, right? So that's the same with code and, and computers and all this stuff that may seem new to some people, digital literacy, all this stuff. It's just doing it a little bit every day. And also I really recommend, I mean, look, there's just probably two different like obvious paths that people choose these days. Like one is you do the immersive boot camp, you take off work for, I don't know, four months or something.

Chris Castiglione 33:22
And you do it every day and you make that your life The reason that those programs are so successful is because they make that path for you and they give you that it's like the gym membership you've bought it you're gonna have a lot of people succeed because you put aside the time and do it. So that works for a lot of people. It's really great that's there. For people who don't have the option, you know, or the money or the time to do that. You this is what we're talking about right now. You know, you kind of have to put that time aside like that gym time, and really with that other path. The way to do is little by little ice I tend to say use lots of different resources. There's not one You know, because I think that's that's the way I the way I learn new languages, computer languages, specifically, if you if you start reading about something on medium, and then you read a book about it, you watch a video about it, you take a little course on it, and you start seeing, like, you know, the same thing.

Chris Castiglione 34:15
We're talking about scope, we're talking about scope in JavaScript, oh, this is this must be important. You know, maybe this comes up a lot. Let me learn about that. You know, that's just kind of one way to, like brute force kind of jump in and just, but if you do it a little bit every day, you'll start to see patterns, you'll start to see more fluent, it's basically the equivalent of going to a planet called JavaScript and trying to speak JavaScript just a little bit every day. A lot of different sources. Yeah, put time on the calendar. And have some friends that keep you accountable.

Laurence Bradford 34:44
Yeah, and I love that metaphor. I've never thought of it before. And I wrote it down cuz I'm gonna use it. I think more in the future. But the idea of the coding boot camp, being like hiring like an expensive trainer, who's like, it's like all the bells and whistles they're they're holding you cannibal you're immersed as you said. And then the other way is like the self taught which could be like, let's think like an at home workout or something. And I feel like no matter either way you can achieve results like you don't have to go to a gym to you know, lose weight or whatever you can do totally at home workouts.

Laurence Bradford 35:16
But then it's like, you have to kind of hold yourself more accountable, you're not as immersed but still a little bit every day can totally pay off and make a huge yet make a huge difference in your life or you know, going out on walks or runs outside. So like free workouts. No, I love that. That's such a good thing. And real quick before we end I just wanted to talk about one month because we've hardly touched on it. Of course, you're the founder there. What what's new what's happening and for those who don't know, one month is a online learn to code and other digital skills platform and the courses are designed to be like in 30 day increments.

Chris Castiglione 35:53
Yeah, we teach people HTML, CSS, we JavaScript and Python. We have other courses, but the ones I mentioned are the core courses that we teach specifically, because these are the skills that I'm seeing in the business school in New York, you know, where you and I live, and a lot of different industries, these, these basic skills will get you so far. And so instead of having every single, I mean, you can go to YouTube or Pluralsight there's a ton of places where you can go and there's marketplaces of courses, you know, and you are as a user, you have to go find what you want, you know, we've really put together you know, this track that we know works and so we teach these courses and yeah, I love it and I'm excited because we're able to offer support and and grading for your homework. And you make rover projects and you have deadlines. Like it's kind of feels like school, it's like that kind of boot camp feel. But you get to do it in your own time.

Chris Castiglione 36:50
So yeah, I you know, it's really exciting and we have we have a lot of free material that we're trying to put out as well some some free courses and videos and tutorials and stuff like that as well. As much as we can to, yeah, to help people get past that hurdle, because oh, because I guess the thing and i think you know, you do a really good job at this as well is getting people past that first hurdle of starting is always the hardest, hardest part. And then like that motivation in the first few weeks, which is why we call it one month, it's like that first month is the hardest part. And I think your podcast does a really good job of that as well. It's like getting people, like, just hearing stories where people can feel like, Oh, I can do that person, that person did it. I could maybe do that. You know, I see, you know, so. Yeah. So that's what I'm excited about. And, yeah, it's always good to chat with you about about this.

Laurence Bradford 37:42
Well, yeah, thank you so much for coming on the show again. And aside from one month, where else can people find you online?

Chris Castiglione 37:49
Yeah, I am. I'm on Twitter. So @castig - C-A-S-T-I-G. And yeah, One Month is So I think If you go there, my face pops up in the corner and you can ask me questions. Something like that.

Laurence Bradford 38:05
Awesome. Well, thank you again for coming on.

Chris Castiglione 38:07
Yeah, of course Laurence. Talk to you soon.

Laurence Bradford 38:14
I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Chris. If you missed any of that, or like a recap, the Show Notes for this episode can be found at If you're listening to this episode in the future, simply click the Search icon in the upper navigation of the website and type in Chris's name. And if you're interested in hearing more from Chris, make sure you also check out our previous conversation back in Season 4. Thanks so much for tuning in, and I'll see you next time.

Key takeaways

  • It’s important to be digitally literate, no matter what field you’re in. Every company today is, in some ways, a tech company—because tech is so embedded in our daily lives.
  • The internet today is very decentralized, and that’s a good thing. You have access to anything and anyone without needing to go through a middleman.
  • It’s important to have what are called “T-shaped skills.” The top of the T is like a left and right horizon, meaning you should have generalized skills in different areas. The bottom of the T goes deeper, meaning you should also have more in-depth skills in one specific thing.
  • Learning to code can be overwhelming, so you might want to learn a little bit of everything. That’s fine at first, but it’s important to eventually pick one thing and run with it. Having really strong skills in one area will help you stand out in your job search and at interviews.
  • When you know one coding language really well, others will be easier to learn—like if you’re already bilingual, learning a third language is easier.
programming language

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